- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Halt Unconstitutional Texas Abortion Ban
BOSTON — Today, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey led a coalition of 24 attorneys general in urging the United States Supreme Court to stop Texas’ unconstitutional six-week abortion ban, Senate Bill 8 (S.B. 8), by vacating the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ stay of a District Court order blocking the ban from going into effect.
The amicus brief, filed with the Supreme Court in the case of United States of America v. State of Texas et al., supports a challenge by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and calls on the Court not to allow Texas to openly disregard nearly a half century of precedent by keeping this unconstitutional, across-the-board ban in place within its borders.
“Each day that goes by with this unconstitutional ban in place, countless people suffer irreparable harm,” said AG Healey. “As attorneys general, it is our job to ensure that residents get the care they need, and to protect the rule of law from this transparent scheme. Today we urge the Supreme Court to uphold 50 years of Roe’s binding precedent by granting the relief desperately needed for patients, families, and providers.”
According to the brief, S.B. 8 not only imposes a ban on almost all abortions in Texas in open disregard of the Supreme Court’s precedent, but also attempts to thwart judicial review and insulate Texas from accountability by purporting to create only a private enforcement scheme. Texas created a structure within its state court system that requires courts to provide monetary and injunctive relief to claimants who bring cases against providers and those who “aid or abet” such constitutionally protected care. Texas created a structure within its state court system that requires courts to award at least $10,000 as well as injunctive relief to claimants who bring cases against providers and those who “aid or abet” such constitutionally protected care. As such, the law threatens potential liability for anyone who so much as gives a patient a ride to an abortion provider.
In accordance with the ban, providers in Texas have largely stopped providing abortion care to their patients. This has affected not only patients in Texas, but clinics and patients in states like California, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Nevada, and Oklahoma. In New Mexico, in particular, an influx of patients from Texas has already strained provider resources and made it more difficult for New Mexico residents to receive timely care.
“Most patients now must travel out of state, which makes abortion for many people too difficult, too time-intensive, and too costly,” the brief states. “Consequently, many will now be forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, resulting in negative health and socioeconomic consequences for both them and their children. And the harms caused by S.B. 8 are rippling well beyond Texas into other states, as people are forced to seek care elsewhere, in many places overwhelming capacity and threatening our own residents’ access to care.”
The brief urges the Supreme Court to stop S.B. 8 from inflicting further harm. It cites back to past examples from our Nation’s history, particularly related to some states’ resistance to desegregation, in arguing that the Court should not permit states to violate constitutional rights through state laws ostensibly enforced only by private parties. The Court “should not permit Texas to ‘nullif[y] indirectly’ the constitutional rights recognized in Roe and Casey through the ‘evasive scheme’ that it has created in S.B. 8,” the brief argues.
AG Healey has been a leader in the fight against S.B. 8 since the beginning. In September, AG Healey led a coalition of 24 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in support of the DOJ’s challenge to Texas’ ban on abortions, specifically the DOJ’s motion for a preliminary injunction of the law. Last week, AG Healey applauded a ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas granting the injunction and blocking S.B. 8 while the court adjudicated DOJ’s case. At Texas’ request, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has now stayed that injunction and allowed S.B. 8 to go back into effect during Texas’ appeal of the preliminary injunction.
Joining AG Healey in today’s brief are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
This matter is being handled for Massachusetts by Managing Attorney Amanda Hainsworth and Division Chief Abigail Taylor, both of AG Healey’s Civil Rights Division, along with State Solicitor Bessie Dewar.